Fianna Fáil has ruled out holding a referendum on changing the Constitution in relation to abortion if the party was to enter Government after the next general election.
Leader Micheál Martin said Fianna Fáil would not move to repeal the Eighth Amendment which guarantees the protection of life for the unborn.
His comments come after an Irish Examiner/ICMSA survey revealed two thirds of farmers would back moves to repeal the amendment.
Labour has pledged to agree to a referendum on the issue if returned to power, although leader and Tánaiste Joan Burton has said it is not a “red line” issue for the party.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will not move to undo the amendment, unless there is a good replacement for it. He also said he will not commit to holding a referendum on the matter if returned to power.
Mr Martin said: “We’ve said collectively as a political party that we would not initiate moves to repeal the Eighth [Amendment].
“Obviously any moves to repeal the eighth would have to be about what would replace it.”
He said some believed if the Eighth was repealed it would have to be replaced with legislation or with another constitutional amendment. “From our perspective, we have freedom of conscience within the parliamentary party. We’re not going to initiate a referendum to repeal it.”
Meanwhile, Mr Martin shrugged off suggestions his councillors may take legal action against Fianna Fáil if gender quotas are enforced.
“We’ve had no legal cases to date. Obviously in relation to conventions, there will be tensions and people will be arguing.”
City councillor Dáithi de Róiste has been told female candidates must be chosen over him to be the candidate for the party in Dublin South Central while Dún Laoghaire councillor Cormac Devlin has threatened legal action against his own party if gender quota rules result in members selecting former minister Mary Hanafin or councillor Kate Feeney.
The National Women’s Council welcomed the poll’s findings. Director Orla O’Connor said it chimed with a wide range of other opinion polls also indicating that the vast majority of the Irish public support a repeal of the eighth.
“The public are way ahead of many politicians on this issue, and the Government must hold a referendum to Repeal Article 40.3.3,” she said.
Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman Dr Ruth Cullen said the poll result was not surprising “given how astonishingly one-sided the debate is at present”.
She claimed there was a “blatant media bias” on the issue. “I find it fascinating the way some commentators take offence at the accusation of media groupthink on the issue. It’s an indisputable fact that the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment is not grassroots driven but is almost exclusively a media driven campaign.”
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